Like a well-oiled machine all turn up at the airport on time – apart from those using the cranky M25.  You have a choice on the M25: clockwise or anti-clockwise….but whether your choice makes any difference is another matter. Little did we know this was just the first of our travel problems we were due to encounter..

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series FWC Crete Camp 2013

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Claremont fundraiser 2013On Saturday 9th of March 2013, the ordinary folk of Islington were going about their business, eating frozen yoghurt and checking out the boutique shops. Little did they know that something far more exciting was happening at the Claremont Project in White Lion Street. The annual City & Islington FWC fundraiser began with a bang at around 2.30 p.m. with approximately 20 of the club’s most dedicated students being put through their paces and judged by Head instructor Dave Courtney-Jones.

Proceedings began with an address from Paul Stanfield, the CEO of Claremont. He gave examples of the great work Claremont does, in particular helping over-55 residents of Islington to feel part of the community by organising activities such as painting, dancing, films and tai-chi. He also showed their deep appreciation for the efforts of FWC in raising funds to help.

The first activity was a two-person demo competition, which involved three teams who had put together choreographed fight scenes (some with music and sound effects including a scene from ‘Legend of the Condor Heroes’ and a routine with the ‘eye of the tiger’ soundtrack from the rocky films!).

Claremont fundraiser 2013We then moved on to the main endurance event, which consisted of: duck walk (13 laps of quacks and waddles around the hall – approximately 500 metres and lots of sore thighs and hamstrings!); 250 leg lifts; 1,000 punches; one minute of iron bridge; and finally 333 upper crane blocks.

Next up was the individual patterns competition where the students also had to say the name of the pattern in Chinese, which ranged from good pronunciation to ahem, quite unrecognisable words greeted with some sniggering from the audience!

Claremont fundraiser 2013The push hands competition came next with a chance for the pugilists to show off their amazing balance and inner strength. The final was tense with some nail biting moments, especially when the finalists both fell out of the ring at the same time!.

Last but not least was the Chinese cooking competition with all the delicious dishes including the winning entry of mapo tofu and green tea biscuits amongst others being gobbled up very quickly by the now starving competitors.


Claremont fundraiser 2013

It was a gruelling event but fun was had by all and most importantly, we have raised an amazing £7,744 which is our highest ever amount. A number of students from the club were unable to take part on the day, but have taken part by completing the endurance exercises in class, which has helped us reach our total. Well done to everyone who took part and let’s go for £10,000 at least next year!

Here are the final FWC results from the 2013 Southern Shaolin Invitational Tournament. FWC sent a team of instructors and students to compete in various categories against teams from around the world. We were commended by the judges for performing traditional patterns to a high standard, and this is reflected in the results.

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On 16 July we will be assembling once again at Gatwick at some unearthly hour of the day, to check in for our flight to Chania, Crete. Whilst there we are hoping to meet an FWC student from the old days at University College London, Professor Manolis Stefanakis. Last year we raised funds for two aspects of Professor Stefanakis’ work at the University of the Aegean on Rhodes.

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A group of instructors and senior students led by Chief Instructor, Dennis Ngo have just finished competing in China.

After a slow start on the first day (Freehand Patterns) the interim medal tally was 2 golds, 4 silver, and 4 bronze. After regrouping and an intense session with Coach Dennis, Day 2 (Weapons Patterns) saw a haul of 4 golds, 7 silver and 1 bronze.

Full update to follow as they are all now on a visit to the Southern Shaolin Temple and are incommunicado.

Best wishes for the Year of the Snake 2013! And don’t forget, all Members of FWC are invited to the Chinese New Year Celebratory Dinner. Friends and family are welcome to join us in celebrating at the famous Joy King Lau Restaurant in London’s Chinatown.

Artwork by Setareh Erfan from a design by Sharon Ngo

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The red flags are up on a very windy day, so no snorkelling. The kite surfers are joyful – their turn for a perfect day. As the Year of the Snake gets underway it is time to ask the self about its significance, sometimes predator, sometimes prey.

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Here be training

This is not a blog but rather a stream of consciousness. Time is irrelevant as we have returned to our training bubble, otherwise known as Soma Bay on the Red Sea. This is instructor Sunday training with knobs on: uber-megatraining.

If you don’t know about the food, the scenery, the snorkelling then I refer you to previous blogs and video in our diary from that trip here. Nothing much has changed although I draw your attention to the following:

  • You can now get a rare steak cooked rare
  • The service is even more attentive than before
  • The beds are as conducive to sweet dreams as ever
  • The sky is blue and the sea is turquoise

Anyway, conversation is fascinating. “So, Mr Bond, you think you know your patterns?”. “Ummmm, yes?”. “Let us find out how much you have left to learn…”. “Ummmm, right, but could you put down the white cat first?”.

“Why is it so much more tiring than Crete?”. Because your learning is going to a new level. Ah. That is also why your brain is hurting even more than your body.

The workshop in Creative Insults is indescribable (but here we go anyway). The rules are laid out. Four letter words are allowed if sufficiently creative and not standard swear-words. Banned words are the obvious insults any old instructor can come out with. Currently the banned list is not too long, but through overuse “empty calories” may soon be added. Insults must be creative, appropriate, targeted and result in improved performance. Improvisation is a key skill, but this is not standup comedy – it’s a serious aspect of being an instructor. Humour is optional but adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Only the rest of the class should be laughing, unable to help themselves but uncomfortably aware it could be them next.

You see, one of the reasons I like going to places where I don’t speak the language is that I don’t have to tune out other peoples’ conversations. My brain does it automatically as it cannot process the sounds into meaning. My Chinese is largely restricted to “day return to Fuzhou please”, any aspect of food, and any aspect of martial arts. Thus I don’t have to endure “I said to him, so he said to her..” chitchat, but I can spot if an interpreter has not translated a Master’s response to an interview question. However, I have realised that I am missing out on the sheer artistry of insults that are embedded in the Chinese culture. So, mundane Mandarin here I come, and buckle your seatbelts – it’s going to be a bumpy ride once I become fluent in Chinsults.

Our evenings as previously are spent stretching but with added mental pain – Chinese character flash cards. “ooooh I know this one! It’s a bug!”. You said that last time. It’s a lobster. Can’t wait for the late arrivals – lobster is definitely going to throw them – shuffle it back to the top of the pack.

Tonight the Year of the Snake is being celebrated all over the world. Happy New Year.